Obamacare Enrollment: Required Premium Payments Going Slowly

Obamacare Enrollment: Required Premium Payments Going SlowlyConsumers signing up for Obamacare must pay their first month’s premium on time for coverage to take effect on Jan. 1.
The deadline varies somewhat by state and by insurer. Nonetheless, the rate of first-month premium payment is slow going, according to ProPublica.
Industry consultants and some insurers say this little-mentioned deadline increases the likelihood that actual Obamacare enrollment will be far lower than the figures released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Industry consultant Kip Piper, a former official at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said this to ProPubllica regarding the pace of first-month premiums: “It naturally varies by insurer and will hopefully increase as we get close to end of December and documents flow in the mail. But overall I’m hearing it’s a small portion so far.”
And that is a fraction of “an already comparatively small number of people who have made it through setting up an account, getting verified, subsidy eligibility determined, plan selected, complete and correct data transferred to the insurer, and insurer set out the confirmation with invoice for consumer’s share of the first month’s premium,” added Piper.
This week, HHS announced that nearly 365,000 Americans had signed up for private health insurance under Obamacare. But the vast majority came from 14 states running their own insurance exchanges, while 137,000 were via the troubled HealthCare.gov federal site.
Meanwhile, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius Thursday announced additional steps to help ensure that consumers who are seeking health insurance through the online marketplace make a smooth transition to getting coverage.
The HHS is requiring insurers to accept payment through December 31 for coverage that will begin January 1. The agency is also urging issuers to give consumers additional time to pay their first month’s premium,  and still have coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2014.
“We are providing additional flexibility to consumers across the country to ensure they have access to coverage options that begin on January 1, 2014,” said Secretary Sebelius.  “The Department is committed to providing consumers with the information they need to pick the coverage option that works for them and their families.”
HHS also said it has formalized the previously announced decision that gives individuals until December 23, instead of December 15, to sign up for health insurance coverage in the Marketplaces that would begin January 1.

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